MILKSHAKE STAR IN CINDERELLA
Here’s one Cinderella who not only gets to go to the ball every performance but also landed herself a prestigious couple of awards along the way. Milkshake star, Olivia Birchenough, the rags to riches heroine in this year’s Blackpool Grand Theatre pantomime, admits she hadn’t heard of the panto awards until she won them.
“I was in Cinderella at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton last year when they Tweeted someone was coming to see the show,” she says.
After whittling down from a long list to a short list Olivia admits she was “shocked but delighted” to eventually win Best Female Lead at both the Great British Pantomime Awards and the Panto Insider Awards.
“It almost felt like winning an Oscar – the GB award looks very swanky on my mantelpiece.”
She did her training at the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
“Yes, it’s affiliated to the Rose Bruford so I spent six months there learning aerial skills and working with silks.”
If that all sounds a bit adventurous for the daughter of a Sale dental nurse and a teacher it certainly seems to have served her in good stead.
“It was a big help that my parents have always been so supportive,” she admits. “They didn’t even flinch when I tootled off to Estonia!”
Barely had she graduated than she was snapped up as a presenter for Channel 5’s leading children’s show Milkshake!
That was five years ago and she hasn’t looked back – or barely stood still – since.
“I consider myself very lucky – there are so many talented people out there after so few positions.”
It probably also helps that she is rarely seen without a beaming smile on her face.
“It sounds corny but by nature I’m a very cheery person,” she admits. “I’ve just always enjoyed dancing and singing and I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do that for a living. I suppose you could say I’ve had a pretty good run and I’m more than happy to still be in demand.”
Olivia admits she loves the challenges both Milkshake! and pantomime throw up.
“They’ve both constantly got a new audience as the viewers and theatre going youngsters grow older and move on to something else,” she says. “You’ve got to keep learning and adapt as you go along. You can’t fool youngsters – if you aren’t enjoying yourself they would soon spot it. And you certainly can’t do pantomime unless you love it.
“It’s like Christmas every day and the cast just becomes one big family.
“But it’s such hard work and it takes it out of your voice and your body as well as mentally. But I wouldn’t swap it.”
One thing she won’t have to miss this year is a family Christmas.
“When I’m away in panto my family always make a point of coming to see me at Christmas but this year I’m only an hour away from home so we can all get together.”
Cinderella plays at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Tuesday 5 December 2017 to Sunday 7 January 2018 starring popular children’s presenter Olivia Birchenough (Milkshake!) as Cinderella, Union J’s JJ Hamblett (The X Factor) as the dashing Prince Charming; BBC Radio Lancashire presenter and madcap comic Steve Royle as Buttons; celebrated stage and TV star Melanie Walters (Gavin & Stacey) as Fairy Godmother and hilarious double act Jamie Morris & Tarot Joseph as the Ugly Sisters.
Book your seats today, otherwise not even your Fairy Godmother will be able to magic you a ticket to see Blackpool’s must-see Christmas show…
Tickets are available here or by calling the box office on 01253 290190.
Interview by: Robin Duke